Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sita - Devdutt Pattanaik

Devidutt Pattanaik tells or rather retells Ramayana from Sita's point of view. It is told in a lucid and simple manner and puts the story in perspective as a whole. All the different stories we hear about Sita, Janka, Dasharatha, Ram etc come together.

I viewed the story for the first time as a great underdog fight. A man with a band of monkeys taking on a trained and prepared army. Pattanaik says this through his characters - that while one army is fighting because it's their job another is fighting for a cause. The importance of purpose, of asking for help, of growing one's team members and believing in them, of stepping aside and letting them help.

Another leadership theme that comes across is that of followership - Ram's story would have been empty if not for Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman who epitomised the spirit of followership. Like Derek Sivers says - it's the first follower who starts the movement. All three are unflinching in their commitment and devotion.

At one stage Hanuman says - he inspires me to be a better man. Man? I thought Hanuman was a monkey. Some pop words like 'better man', 'victim' and 'expand' come into the narrative late into the story.

The justification of sending Sita out because of gossip which is seen as a 'stain' reeks of injustice. However it is explained away in some wishy washy manner. Ram would have been greater if his nonjudgment extended to forgive and accept and defend Sita without proof. But we are human and do not understand the ways of the devas who are constantly running off with someone else's wives in a very 'nonjudgmental' manner. My point is - if there is no judgment there, where does right or wrong come from? Accept the rakshasha and his deeds as well without judgment. But then I am a judgmental human and cannot really understand these things.

The book has a box item in every page which gives little tidbits. If you read the tidbits you will lose the flow so read the story. Else you will never get through it. I almost gave it up myself before I picked it up again.

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